Under heavy cloud and against a bitter cold, they stood in silence.

In their thousands on Dublin’s grandest avenue, the people came to the site of the Easter Rising in 1916, the General Post Office.

Heads were bowed in solemn reflection, in thanks to those who gave their lives to bring the Irish Republic into life 102 years ago.

While not as expansive an affair as the centenary commemoration two years ago, the pomp of the occasion was captivating.

With the Tricolour flying at half mast, the impressive gallery of Defence Force personnel, with medals on show, stood frozen as the last post was sounded.

President Michael D Higgins led the commemoration ceremony, inspecting a guard of honour before laying a wreath, at the invitation of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Air corps Captain Sean McCarthy read out a copy of the Proclamation on the steps on the GPO where the rebellion against British rule began 102 years ago. Warm applause from the assembled crowd greeted its conclusion.

During the small silences during the ceremony, one could see just how thronged O’Connell St was with thousands of onlookers, including relatives of the 1916 leaders.

Health Minister Simon Harris, Education Minister Richard Bruton, and junior defence minister Paul Kehoe were on hand to represent the Government. Former president Mary McAleese and her husband, Martin, also attended.

Among the guests was the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, a former chief of staff to US former president Barack Obama.

The event culminated with the raising of the Tricolour to full mast followed by a stirring rendition of ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ as three air corps aircraft performed a spectacular fly-past.

One element of sadness to impinge on the event was the news that Fr Joseph Mallin, the last surviving child of a rebel leader, Michael Mallin, had died in Hong Kong yesterday morning.

As the event concluded, President Higgins and Mr Varadkar mingled and posed for photos with members of the public for a short while.

Separate commemorative events were also held at Glasnevin Cemetery.

Arts and Heritage Minister Minister Josepha Madigan was joined by Sarah Tiffan, deputy head of mission at the British embassy, and ambassador Stephane Crouzat, on behalf of the French embassy, as well as members of the Irish Defence Forces for the event.

Wreath-laying ceremonies took place at the Sigerson Monument and the graves of Edward Hollywood, the man who delivered the first Tricolour flag to Ireland from France, and Peadar Kearney, the composer of the national anthem.


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